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Feral Goats in Australia

Angela Maiden Goat Hunting Leave a Comment

The population of feral goats is spread throughout Australia but are very rare in Northern Territory. With a population of approximately 2.6 million feral goats covering 28 percent of the land area.

Domestic goats arrived in Australia to Sydney on the first fleet in 1788, there were just 19 and by 1790 the number had grown to 1900. They quickly spread across Australia and were introduced inland by early settlers taking advantage of both their meat and milk.

The economic impact of feral goats in Australian Agriculture is around 25 million dollars per year and 17.8 million dollars is calculated from the reduction in stock production. This estimate does not include costs related to the environment.

Feral goats are well known for their disregard of fences, thus causing damage and increases the roaming range between both public and private land. They compete for grass/crops that a designed for domestic animals or native animals. With their grazing practice they are also known to reduce the variety of grass species by selective grazing. This selective grazing can lead to soil erosion.

Feral goats are also considered a threat to the yellow footed rock wallaby populations with the habitat and diet of both species being very similar.
Along with the impact of grazing land feral goats in Australia also are susceptible to diseases that can be transmitted to domestic sheep and goat herds. These diseases include John’s, Q fever, Tetanus, Leptospirosis, Brucellosis militansis Hydatids, Pulpy kidney, Black leg and various parasitic worms.

The mustering of feral goats has become widely common across the areas where there are the highest densities of feral goats. With the commercial revenue of this around 29 million dollars annually. This is mainly for the meat with the addition of the skins. With some farmers rely on the mustering of feral goats as their main source of income. This has a positive flow on effect for the agricultural sector as well as the land management issues. Some of the mustered goats may be used to control weeds especially in rough terrain. This is common in areas that have been left after clearing and plants such as blackberry have taken hold.

The population growth of feral goats is influenced by environmental factors. In some arid areas there is no defined breeding season and in temperate climates between January and June. They have a high percentage of twin births, meaning of conditions are favourable the feral goats population can double every 1.6 years.

When hunting feral goats many people chase the larger males, for their trophy horns. Where others hunt to be able to consume the meat. What ever size/sex animal you are after you should never use anything smaller than a 22-250. The most common is the. 243 which allows for longer ranges and accuracy. As feral goats are often hunted on foot around waterholes so maybe on the move. In some practices animals ate herded and taken at close range so a 30-30 can be used. As with any hunting a clean well aimed shot is best, to dispatch the goat in the most humane way possible. With feral goats a head shot is best as it leaves the meat pellet free. When targeting a trophy animal take a shot that leave the skull intact if required, a heart/shoulder shot may be required. When hunting in scrub always identify the target clearly, before taking a shot.

With what ever method you use make sure that you stick to the state laws that apply to the hunting of feral goats. If you happen to shot a nanny goat with kids at foot remember to do the right thing. Where ever you find yourself hunting feral goats have fun doing it and do it safely.

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